CBC’s story looking at how unqualified and uninsured tree workers may be a danger to themselves and liability to homeowners. The story is focused on the Ottawa Ontario area where the Emerald Ash Borer has increased demand for certified arborist services.
Jamie Enright – ISA Certified Arborist: What’s happening now, is that because of the emerald ash borer, about 30% of our forest canopy is aspen so 30% or so of all our trees are starting to die. Especially in the cities where they all have to come down. There are lots of guys getting into the game and a lot of them don’t even know there is such a thing as certification – they are just trying to make a dollar.
International Society of Arboriculture: is warning homeowners about the dangers of hiring non-certified people. They have seen a boom in people without experience buying chainsaws and marketing themselves as professionals.
Bill Gardener – ISA Arborist Ontario Chapter:
We are working out in mother nature, and mother nature puts dead branches, bird holes, raccoons, those are all hazards as well as a storm may have damaged a tree. It’s part of understanding the strength of wood, in the most recent accident in this area. He made an error in cutting a branch, and the branch swept him off the tree, he fell to the ground and then the branch fell on top of him. Not a very nice situation and he died as a result of it. It’s a very dangerous job if you don’t follow the rules or are not well educated. Ash trees are dying here and there is a tremendous amount of work here and because people are not in the trade are thinking they can just buy a chainsaw, lease a truck and get in the business. They begin to do the work and find it is more difficult than they expected and they just take a chance(or risk). Or they just don’t have the knowledge of how to use the safety equipment and don’t have the safety equipment.
There are only 7 restricted trades and this isn’t one of them, anyone can get buy a chainsaw and get in the business.
Interviewer: If that person is injured on your property what can happen?
The worker, and his family if he dies can sue the property owner. Insurance will not cover you if you deliberately or knowingly have chosen someone who is not qualified or trained to do the job. You could end up losing your house which would be a worst-case scenario but can happen.
We drive down the street to jobs and we see an average each morning of companies that we have never seen before, with no names on trucks, reflective uniforms, often with no chain saw pants, non-professional saws. We actually see them every day.
Some of the guys running around with a chainsaw will work for a case of beer, the reality is that 5-6% of every dollar we bring in goes to the compensation board. We have training costs where we send workers to school. When you buy the proper equipment today we have just under a million dollars worth of equipment.
Government regulation is unlikely so we need public education. Right now we have a standard that is a certified arborist and if people only used the certified arborist to do the jobs it would be safer and in many cases, it can cost you more in the future. If you have any kind of mishap the real costs of the accident can off-sent all of the savings that can be made by hiring unqualified people.